I am a California girl, born and raised. There are a couple of stereotypes that come to mind when people hear that, and a few of them are true of me. I am blond. I like the ocean. I am tan. But there are some things about being a native Californian that don’t just come to mind. For example, all Southern Californian’s are experts in smog levels, UV protection in sunscreen and determining ETA allowing for traffic. We are also all aficionados of Mexican food. Mexican food is by far my favorite cuisine. I love the fancy stuff almost as much as I love Taco truck. I adore the smells, the colors and the pure zazz that is Mexican food.
And yet I choose to live in a country that houses little to zero GOOD Mexican food. The problem being that there are little to no actual Mexican people here in the land of spires. I often wonder why I like it here so much seeing as how it is about as different from So Cal as you can get: freezing winters full of snow, land locked, spice free and devoid of Mexican food that actually tastes like Mexican food.
There are a few places here in Prague that serve Mexican food – but most of them wouldn’t know a chimichanga from a quesadilla. My friends and I often hit up the happy hour at the very popular Banditos Restaurant. The food and beer come cheap, but we are under no illusions that we are actually eating Mexican food. Last time I checked taco’s didn’t have ground beef as a filling. It is the “American Fast Food” version of Mexican. It’s fine, but it ain’t Mexican. There is also Cantina, but that is across the river so it might as well actually be in Mexico.
By far the best Mexican food I have found here is Las Adelitas. I went there for the first time a few weeks ago and was shocked when I walked through the doors and smelled actual re-fried beans. The song playing was one I remembered from my time living south of the border, and the nice man who took my order was Mexican. The place is run by some folks that hail from Mexico. And I was sold. The food passed the Alicia test.
People often ask me if I miss living in the US – and my answer is always the same: No. Sure I miss things like Target and shrimp burritos, but that is by no means a good reason for me to move back to the land of plenty of everything. Sure, it sucks that Prague cuisine isn’t the best in the world and that Czechs idea of spice is salt, but I am still happy to be here. I appreciate everything in my life a little more now – especially a good burrito.